Community reacts to two-year anniversary of devastating William Fox Elementary School fire

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A community reacts after a massive fire destroyed the historic William Fox Elementary School, which is tucked away in the center of The Fan, two years ago today.

A devastating fire on Friday, Feb, 11, 2022, left William Fox Elementary School completely without a roof and heavily damaged the structure. For over 24 hours, the building still smoldered after the fire was marked under control early Saturday morning.

Long-time Fan resident Dawn Adams was home when the fire broke out in the middle of the night on Feb. 11, 2022.

“It was like losing a family member. It was a very chaotic scene,” Adams said. “The school has been the lifeblood of our neighborhood.”

  • The extent of the damage at Fox Elementary can be seen on Saturday morning

Community members and former William Fox Elementary parents, like Shannon Heady, pressed for answers as to how something like this could happen.

Later an investigation found William Fox Elementary School did not have sprinklers installed. And the fire alarm panel – which was in need of repairshad failed.

However, in the last year, the school’s reconstruction has been going smoothly. The school has passed final inspections, installed a new roof and awarded the lone bidder – Gulf Seaboard General Contractors – a 30 million dollar contract to rebuild the interior of the school.

“I’ve been so impressed, you know, [with] Richmond Public Schools with all the other things that were going on and dealing with, has really had such a commitment to the building process,” Heady said.

Adams said he is excited for the future of William Fox Elementary and what it would mean for children living in the area.

“Hopefully they’re preserving some of the beauty that was part of the school. But we’re so excited that the kids are going to get their home base back and families are going to feel secure again in the new Fox Elementary,” Adams said.

Students who previously attended William Fox Elementary have been taking classes at Clark Springs Elementary. Leaders hope the school will reopen in the fall of 2025.

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